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Sunday, May 24, 2009

ZooZoo’istan

Tonight after a battle for more than a month, the best team is about to be crowned. The IPL final is scheduled for tonight, and DC and RCB – the bottom two teams in the last season are battling out for the top honours. I am sure this would be some soothing news for SRK, and his KKR. They can expect to sweep the IPL, next year.

It was a wonderful 5 week odd thing, and a complete entertainer. The evening talk at the beach was totally filled with animated expressions of the previous day matches, and we even had to go to the extent of rescheduling our timings at the beach, depending on the IPL matches.

Who won, who lost? Who was the gainer, who was the loser? These are all cases for analysis by better cricket enthusiasts than myself, who just watches the match if there is no better thing on TV, or the remote control happens to be in my brother's control. Whoever wins tonight - The clear winner all along the way is - the ZOOZOO's. Yes, welcome to "ZOOZOOistan."

Vodafone has managed to come out with such fine simple ads, that these slim legged egg headed creatures have caught the imagination of the whole nation. Everywhere people are talking about this new mascot. Forty-four years after legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray created the iconic dwarf Ang, which was adapted by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg as the E.T., India now has a new cult of queer beings - the Zoozoos.

In the first place - What is a zoozoo?

Zoo´zoo`

n.

1.

(Zool.) The wood pigeon.

This is the dictionary meaning.

Some find these cute characters similar to aliens, others say they are just cartoon characters while there is a huge majority who just does not know what to make out of it. Yet, the white, funny creatures have been invading us on the huge screens all through the IPL.

Vodafone has managed it again – last year's IPL saw HAPPY TO HELP, to promote their customer service, and this year the ZooZoo's to convey the value added services (VAS) offering in each of the commercials.

The best part being the many number of different ads being aired. About 30 odd ads are having been created so as to maintain the interest and create a spur. It's no mean feat to unleash so many commercials at a go, with the risk of consumers not grasping them as fast as the brand churns them out.

Media spends and visibility for brands peak during the IPL, so no doubt Vodafone obviously wanted a piece of the pie. Ogilvy – the ad agency behind these characters and ads, experimented with several characters and finally took its love for the term 'egghead' one step too far, creating characters that don the colour white (with black dots for eyes and a mouth), have heads resembling eggs, and disproportionately thin bodies. You egghead!

The idea was to tell the VAS stories in a world akin to, yet different, from humans. The creatures were then given a characterisation: they are to lead simple lives, speak a language of their own (something that sounds like gibberish), move in a certain way, and even emote like human beings, with big frowns or big grins to do the trick. The execution is almost like emoticons.

The naming of them as "the Zoozoos", has no science to it – the name is just something fun, memorable and catchy, and not a clever one that's difficult to pronounce.

Zoozoo trivia: Ironically, nowhere in the communication does the Zoozoo name pop up.

Making of the Zoozoo

As thought initially, No, they aren't animated characters. They are human beings who were made to wear body suits. The design of the characters is such that one gets fooled into thinking it is animation. It is 'live' animation!" The emails of the pictures of the people behind the masks have been doing rounds of late.

A fabric with wrinkles would have shown when the characters moved, thereby shattering the illusion of animation, so a more thicker fabric was chosen as it was more practical.

Zoozoo trivia: human head would typically reach up to the mouth level of this giant Zoozoo head.

The thin limbs, contrasted with big bellies and a bulbous head, all add to the illusion that these creatures are 'smaller' than humans. Sets were created to suit the size of the Zoozoos. Cinematically, this 'size' was a trick: the creatures look smaller than they actually are on screen, to portray a different world of sorts. For this, the speed of shooting was altered. They were shot on a high-speed format to make them look the size that they do.

Even in the digital world

In the digital space, Zoozoos are currently featured on a specially created microsite, where one can partake in quizzes and contests, including the 'What kind of Zoozoo are you?' quiz. Each Zoozoo has a unique set of characteristics and traits allotted to it. The microsite also allows for goodies to be downloaded (including wallpapers, screensavers and ringtones), and offers details on the IPL. With a specially created YouTube channel on the site, the TVCs are provided there for people to watch and share.

Apart from the microsite, a Zoozoo fan page has been created on Facebook, which has more than 220,807 fans (on Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 4:09PM. Dude, the number is increasing exponentially every day!), who have access to special tag-me images, Zoozoo sounds (such as Zoozoo laughter and music tracks) and ad previews.

The page creators are clearly facebook savvy. They have uploaded albums, shared links and even created innovative zoozoo type products based on popular trends on facebook. That ludicrous "tag your friends into this sheet of cartoons depicting personality stereotypes" craze for instance. They have created two (admittedly very cute) pictures various zoozoos depicting personality stereotypes for people to tag. Hats off. Not only are the page managers homing in on a popular trend on the social networking site, they are also pulling off a clever piece of viral marketing. Now as more and more people tag their friends on these pages, it would just increase the brand recall of the campaign.

People are also following Zoozoos on Twitter and get updates whenever new commercials go on air.

So, from the famous hutch pug, to zoozoo's now, Vodafone here has a complete winner.

Awards

The cannes and other advertising and marketing awards can wait. The zoozoo's have already earned its first award - People for Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) 2009 Glitterbox Award, for taking advantage of humane alternatives to the use of real animals in their ZooZoo ads.

The "Pug" commercial led to viewers purchasing pugs, and breeders cranking out as many puppies as they could. Later, when the appeal wore off, the dogs ended up in shelters or were abandoned. So you know what needs to be donw for the award:

  1. Create an ad using animals and publicize them
  2. Create your next ad again with the animals.
  3. One more with the same animals..





  4. Now create an ad, with equally random creatures but no animals.

While the zoozoo's are there busy creating a spur for Vodafone, there is this one guy who just can't keep out of trouble – Varun Gandhi. Even after winning the election, he realized he was not being talked about anymore, and there he is misbehaving with journalists.

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